When Alaska Dispatch first started in mid-2008, the idea was to bring together Alaskans from all corners of the state and give them a place to share their stories. For its first year, the site largely depended on folks telling their own tales. Then, in August 2009, the Dispatch hired reporters and editors and began covering the state while continuing to publish stories by Alaskans, though not as many as before.
Now the Dispatch is going back to its roots. We have launched a new Web site called TundraTelegraph.com that is entirely dedicated to you, Alaskans, to tell your stories through words, pictures and videos. Think of Tundra Telegraph as a giant group blog where you can submit stories, videos and photos -- a portal where you can search for citizen-produced content statewide by region and category.
Tundra Telegraph is for all Alaskans, but we are working extra hard to give voice to rural residents. Rural Alaska has long suffered from a lack of media coverage due to financial, logistical and cultural challenges facing both the state's media and remote residents. This has contributed to an ever-deeper urban-rural divide. Tundra Telegraph aims to knock down those barriers and spur discussion. Our hope is that this will lead to a more connected state and lead to a better understanding between our rural and urban populations. Tundra Telegraph is a place for everyone to feel welcome, from the smallest villages to expanding urban centers and everywhere in between.
As editor of Tundra Telegraph, I view the site as a movement of sorts; a change in how we share our experience as Alaskans. By sharing our own stories, we ensure our voices are heard unfiltered by media and politics. This idea resonates with me. I come from a generation of young Alaska Natives who are searching for who they are and what it means to be Alaska Native. We find ourselves trying to right past wrongs our ancestors experienced as a result of insensitive education systems and laws that contradict traditional ways. Some of us live urban lives while trying to maintain connections and identity to a land where our spirit has existed for thousands of years. We do this in the face of losing the glue that holds any culture together: language.
I also come from a generation of native Alaskans who are worried about the future of our home state. Some of us move Outside as soon as the opportunity presents itself. We want a flourishing urban life, with livable cities, good jobs and things to do. Yet, many of us in our 20s seek out culture and meaning everywhere except for at home.
For me, Tundra Telegraph is a place to explore both sides of who I am. And I hope it becomes something equally meaningful for you.
Contact Jennifer Canfield at editor(at)tundratelegraph.com